Preseason games, much like the Quick Reactions on this website, are cannon fodder. Marched out for reactions, for takes, and for all the excitement and jubilance it can muster - provided things go well. The Raptors came in, missed a comical amount of shots from the outside, kicked the ball around, and tried to find their way back to some form of controlled chaos by each games end. If you wanted to be excited about this preseason, you had to be invested in end of rotation battles, end of roster battles, and the blurring progression of Precious Achiuwa.
Last night, however, OG Anunoby entered this game with a clear purpose: score the hell out of the ball. Quicker decisions, better outcomes at the end of those decisions, and a first quarter outburst to the tune of 20 points on 8-12 shooting from the floor. When everything comes together for Anunoby, it can be overwhelming. When he's not off-balance, suddenly, we and the opposing defense remember that he's pound-for-pound one of the strongest athletes in the NBA, with a deft touch and the ability to rise up after carving out space in the congested paint area. The little slump from beyond the arc corrected, and suddenly an accomplished shooter, proven over many years starts knocking down jumpers. At first he's keeping advantages given off of handoffs, but eventually he's taking Jayson Tatum off-the-bounce by his lonesome. Rejecting a screen that the defense iced and muscling downhill for an And-1. Overwhelming.
For those who might suggest that the Raptors have a logjam of talents, and maybe even too much overlap in that regard, Nick Nurse was asked about Anunoby's performance within the context of Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr.'s absence: "I think that he's worked himself into a little bit better rhythm here. I mean, obviously the opportunities for both he and Scottie changed tonight, the volume, with Gary and Pascal off the floor. And I think those guys knew they had to be aggressive out there, plus we started Khem. So, they became primary options tonight. He found the ball himself a lot, he got himself open and he got himself in the right situations, and he's gotta continue to do that when those other guys are on the floor." - Nick Nurse